A Quick Jaunt Into The Future – a preview of Terminal 2Posted: October 10, 2010
Over the past year I’ve been signing up to do things a little off my normal track, saying “yes” to things I’d normally say “No” to, or just trying things I’ve never done before in my life.
I’ve always been interested in both transport and infrastructure, so when DAA (Dublin Airport Authority) put ut a call for human guinea-pigs to take part in a full scale test of the almost finished Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport, I jumped at the chance.
OK, so I have to spend the bulk of a precious Saturday queueing and waiting, while not actually going anywhere, but on the plus side I get to indulge in constructive criticism, and get that little jolt of “walking into the future” that I always feel when using a big new piece of infrastructure for the first time. And this time I am going into the future in a sense, by getting to experience something that is not actually open yet.
This article walks you through the new terminal and reviews it from my point of view as a regular traveller.
Photography was not allowed on the day, so images used here are from DAA’s publicity file, and were not taken during the test.
PART 1 – DEPARTING
Terminal 2 presents a modern and snazzy image on the outside, though inside it is clean and functional rather than awe-inspiring. After approaching through a long glass-covered walkway from the old terminal and the bus station, you enter at ground level to a large check-in hall.
All of the check-in desks are located in a straight line along the rear wall, leaving the whole of the floor space for circulation and marshalled queues.
When in operation, there will be on 4 or 5 different check-in queues, with, for example, everyone for Air Lingus in one large queue feeding into perhaps 15-20 check-in desks.
This area is very bright due to the glass walls on three sides and a lot of glass above too. It did get filled to capacity very quickly during the trials, so it will be interesting to see how it will cope on a busy bank holiday Friday or a normal Saturday morning.
When you have checked in, you need to to go upstairs to departures, and to do this you have to go back to the outer edge of the building to access the escalators, crossing the flow of people arriving in after you to join the check-in queues.
The escalators take you up to the mid-level arrivals floor, where another set of escalators take you up to the Departures area. I’m not sure why they have put check-in on ground level and arrivals above it instead of the other way round, but presumably there is a reason. My advice when using T2 would be to check-in online if possible.
The security screening area is very roomy, with lots of space around the screening belts and metal detectors. (Guess who got picked for random body search!)
On the other side there are tables for putting your stuff back together, but possibly no seats (none were installed as of yesterday, but there was an area which looked as if seats might be installed – these are useful after screening if you need to sort stuff out, but back on shoes etc).
From here you pass straight into a large oval concourse, with lots of shops all around you (most were not complete during the trial, but there was the usual big duty free shopping area for drink/perfume/gifts, a chemist, a W H Smith (strange to see that in Dublin!) and various fashion stores.
A set of escalators leads up to a Food Hall, but this was closed off, so I can’t comment on size, layout or choice of eating options.
At the end of this area, there is a fork, with one direction leading to gates 101-335 (the Terminal 1 gates) while the other continues on to the new gates built for Terminal 2 (401-426). So it is possible to be checking in at Terminal 2, but still departing from Terminal 1 – which could involve some significant walking (especially for the 1xx series gates)
Continuing to our terminals 4xx gates, at one point you emerge from a covered area into a glass-sided landing before descending a set of long escalators, and just at the top of these you have a superb view airside.
The escalators take you down two levels, and pass through the arrivals corridors in a glass-encased box.
You are now at the departure pier, still above ground level.
The gates (407-426) are set out on a long straight line as you walk out the pier , odd numbers to the left, even to the right.
(Gates 401-406 are in a different, ground level section, reached by further escalators from this point – obviously no airbridges at those gates).
The area is spacious, there are frequent toilets, and the usual amount of seating per gate (i.e not enough – about half a planeload).
There is no indication at the moment of any catering/coffee type kiosks here, but surely these must be added before opening.
An interesting thing, this departure pier projects out into the airside area far more than any of the others at Dublin Airport, and if you go all the way to the end, at gate 426, the pier ends with a large, unobstructed window area giving you a view in three directions across the airport, quite close to the end of one of the main runways. It is quite the best view of the airport that you will get from any public area.
PART 2 – ARRIVING
On arriving back from your flight, the process is very straightforward, and few changes of level are involved (if an airbridge is used). You walk straight along the pier, into a large passport/immigration check area, and straight into baggage reclaim. This area is like any other I have ever used, and you exit from this into the public arrivals area.
Taxi and bus services can be accessed via a covered walkway.
My overall verdict: nice, bright, modern, nothing stunning, but functionally very good, except perhaps for the check-in to security routing.
You can also read my thoughts and experiences of the testing excercise itself